TORONTO, Ont. – Ontario is cancelling in-vehicle road tests for would-be truck drivers in Toronto and the Peel Region, as the province enforces a lockdown to fight Covid-19.
The cancellations immediately apply to Brampton, Downsview, Etobicoke, Metro East, Mississauga, and Port Union DriveTest centers.
While the road tests are being cancelled without penalties, residents in the affected areas won’t even be able to book road tests at DriveTest centers in other regions as of Nov. 30. If someone from the lockdown area has booked a road test in a different region, it will be cancelled as well.
The Toronto and Peel locations will still be open for indoor services such as knowledge tests, with capacity limits and other Covid-19 protocols in place.
“We know that these measures will result in some people experiencing longer wait times for road tests,” said Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney, in a related press release. “However, these are unprecedented times and our number one priority is the health and safety of individuals, families and workers.”
Those who have their road tests cancelled will receive a credit and can rebook tests once the regions move to a lower Covid-19 warning level. The current lockdown is in place for 28 days.
“They gave pretty much zero notice. I got an email Sunday evening around 6:30 that there would be no testing the next day. The bars get three days notice, but we get less than 24 hours,” says George Cierpich of Metro Truck Driving School. “Some of these people have been booked well in advance.”
The trainees have been preparing for the tests for about five weeks, and many will require refresher training before their road tests are ultimately rescheduled, he says.
“It’s going to hurt them. It’s going to hurt us. It’s not a pleasant situation.”
Meenakshi Walia of Trukademy Canada says the Mississauga-based training school has been frustrated by a lack of answers to related questions.
“When we call the ministry, they say, ‘Call the Public Health people,’” she says. The Public Health personnel offer little else.
“We had so many students, 10 or 15 were waiting for their test in the month of December, and they cancelled it all.”
Most of the students will likely require some refresher training before the tests are rebooked, she adds.
“It will affect because all the students have already done their training, and if there is a big gap their memory will not be that fresh.”
Ontario’s 56 DriveTest centers were completely closed on March 23, and gradually began to re-establish services on June 22. Full service was not restored until Sept. 8.
Students have been required to wear face coverings in DriveTest locations and during road tests, sanitize their hands when entering the buildings, and submit to temperature checks and screening questions. Examiners have been equipped with face shields, sanitizer packages, and seat covers.
The closures added to pre-existing backlogs that had forced some driver training schools to travel to other regions when booking exams.
“That’s a big problem,” says Jasbir Chahal, owner and director of the Peel Truck Driving School in Brampton, referring to the latest cancellations.
He says the school has close to 50 students awaiting road tests. “They are affected by the serious backlog.”
And trucking businesses themselves remain open, Chahal adds.
- This article has been updated to include comments from Metro Truck Driving School.
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